Harvest Luffa Sponges:
How to and When to Harvest
I wrote about Growing Luffa Sponges a while back and told you all that I’d check back in when it was time to harvest my sponges. Well, I’ve begun to harvest my luffa sponges and it’s been a bit of a confusing endeavor. I read so many “How-To” articles and felt they were pretty misleading in some ways. I’m going to explain to you what I’ve learned about harvesting luffa sponges and how I did it; what worked for me and what did not.
You can’t go by color alone when it comes to harvesting your luffa sponges and that is slightly aggravating. You’ll read to only pick your luffas when they’re brown and dried on the vine and you’ll read to only pick them when they’re still yellow/green. In my experience, you do not want them dried up and hard hanging on the vine. This means your luffa sponge is more likely to already be molding and that is a big no-no when it comes to harvesting luffa sponges. Instead, look for luffa gourds that are turning from green to yellow, making their way to a brown luffa.
Harvest your luffa sponges before they have completely dried out, with a slight “give” when you squeeze it. If the gourd feels pretty soft, leave it a day and check again tomorrow. If your luffa sponge feels like it’d be pretty hard if you waited a day, pick that luffa! The browner your gourds get the harder they will get. I read this was the perfect time to pick them but, as mentioned before, this method always meant more mold in my sub-tropical climate. The confusing part comes in when I tell you that the very first luffa sponge I ever harvested was rock hard and sounded like a maraca when I shook it from the seeds; this luffa revealed no mold when peeled! This HAS NOT been the case for the rest of the luffas I waited that long to peel.
Internal Color and Peeling
After harvesting your luffas sponges using a pair of pruners, you’re ready to peel them! First, you’ll want to hit the gourd on a hard surface a few times to loosen the seeds. Next, cut the bottom end of the luffa sponge off. This is the end that was not attached to the vine, just to be clear. If your gourd is extremely dry and sounds like a rattle, the seeds will probably fall out quite easily. My luffa sponges needed to be harvested a little sooner than that so it was a little more difficult to get the seeds out when peeling them immediately.
Grab some scissors, cut down the inside of the luffa flesh and peel the skin all the way off! Another thing to remember when harvesting your luffa sponges is they’ll be much harder to peel if you wait until they’re completely dried and hanging on the vine.
Completing Harvest and Preparing for Use
After you’ve removed all of your seeds and peeled your luffa sponge rinse all the sap off the sponge itself. The easiest way to do this is to get a garden house with a sprayer and use the “pressure wash” setting, or something close to it. You’re looking for a straight stream of water that comes out with high pressure. Spray your sponge up and down until the slimy feeling has gone away. There’s no reason to be super persnickety doing this because you’re going to use your sponge in the water later anyway but just get as much out as you can. You’re also removing any extra dirt or plant particles while spraying the gourd.
After your dry your luffa sponge you’ve successfully harvested your luffa sponges! I laid out a couple of towels on my kitchen counter, put my luffas on top of them and patted them down with another towel. Over a day or two, rotate your sponges and pat/squeeze them dry (be gentle). Once they’re completely dry, they’re ready to use!
Have you grown and harvested luffa sponges before? How did it go and what was your method? It’s so interesting how the processes change in with each different climate, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!
Read the post that inspired me to grow luffah sponges, to begin with, called “The Ultimate Guide to Successfully Growing Luffa Sponges“!